In October of 1929 the economic prosperity, enjoyed for nearly a decade, ended. In October of 2008 the economic stability and spurts of prosperity that the US enjoyed throughout most of the 1990's and some periods of the 2000's has also come to an end.
During both periods Americans were heavily invested in the stock market. In the 1920's people had bought stocks on margin. In the 2000's citizens had put their retirement investments in 401Ks and IRAs. In both cases the increased demand placed on the stock market caused stock prices to rise, which in turn encouraged more stock purchases. Investing on margin was a risk just as investing retirement funds is a risk. The assumption was that the continued infusion of dollars into the markets would endlessly push stock prices upward. Both assumptions were proven wrong with tragic consequences.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had a more difficult challenge with winning the Democratic nomination for President in 1932 than he had with the General Election against Herbert Hoover. Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) may similarly have had a more difficult road to the Democratic nomination than he will facing off against John McCain.
The electorate in 1932 identified Herbert Hoover with the policies of former U.S. Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. The electorate in 2008 is associating John McCain with the trickle down economic policies of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. John McCain is continuing to insist that those policies along with deregulation are good for the economy. This is a clear disconnect with reality.
FDR only needed to prove to Americans that Republicans were the stewards of failed policies and that they needed to take responsibility for the depression. BHO is currently following the same strategy as he reminds voters about the state of the economy and who has been in charge for the past eight years.
Roosevelt was a calm and confident campaigner and could relate to his large audiences hungry for hope and change. Obama is exactly the same. FDR promised a depressed people a 'New Deal' and optimism. BHO proposes bringing sensible regulation to Washington and Wall Street and the creation of a 'Green Economy' which would create millions of new American jobs by investing $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of green energy technology and infrastructure, provide job training and transition programs to help train workers for employment in the green economy and establish new national energy standards to spur demand for clean, sustainable sources of energy.
Hoover, who in 1932 could not run on his economic record or that of the Republican Party, resorted to attacking Roosevelt. His campaign was based on making FDR out to be a dangerous radical who would make the Depression worse by raising taxes and increasing the federal debt in order to pay for expensive welfare and social-relief programs. McCain is following the same playbook.
Roosevelt won a landslide victory, capturing 42 of the 48 states. Obama is currently ahead or tied in 30 states with an outside chance of winning five additional. Current poll estimates have Obama with well over the 270 Electoral Votes required to become the 44th President of the United States. Voters in 1932 also gave the Democrats large majorities in both houses of Congress. The same result are projected this year.
FDR's middle name 'Delano' was Anglicized. The original name 'Delano', and maiden name of his mother Sara Delano, was originally 'de Lannoy'. The name is from French-speaking Flanders. Flanders is located in parts of present day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Imagine the uproar in 1932 if Franklin Delano Roosevelt had taken the oath as Franklin de Lannoy Roosevelt. Imagine the campaign that the Republicans would have waged insisting 'Franklin de Lannoy Roosevelt is not like you and I, he sees America differently. Who is the real Franklin de Lannoy Roosevelt?'
I hope that Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) takes the oath as our next President of the United States using his full name. We should be proud that our country does not judge people based on their names or its origin. As for the fearful and ignorant who cannot accept the diversity of this great land and its many names, their time has finally passed.
For more on this topic, see Juan Cole's Obama should be proud to be named Hussein.